Why ‘After Earth’ is actually an alternate continuation of ‘I Am Legend’

Will Smith has a new film coming out in a week, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, called After Earth. Its story is set 1000 years in the future, where humanity has moved out of the Blue Planet because the Apocalypse happened and have developed supercool spaceships with the scraps they took with them, and its about a father and son (Smith and his son Jaden, because we haven’t seen enough of that kid already) who crash land on Earth during a routine mission and have to find a way to survive. Though it does have some good talent attached, I’m quite wary of it thanks to another post-apocalyptic summer film released a couple of months ago with similar talent called Oblivion, but needless to say I’ll be watching it.

But what’s more interesting is what After Earth brings to mind: another post-apocalyptic movie starring Will Smith that was released in 2007 that I’m sure you’ve heard of called I Am Legend. In that film, Smith plays Dr. Robert Neville, a man stuck in an abandoned New York City in 2012 as he tries to find a cure for a virus that’s infected most of humanity and turned them into a hybrid of vampires and the zombies from 28 Days Later. The ending SPOILER ALERT doesn’t bode well for Smith when he sacrifices himself for the greater good of humanity by saving a mother and child, so that they can go to a military base in Vermont, with a cure that he discovered five minutes prior to blowing himself up, and live happily ever after (which they did). SPOILER ENDS

So how are these two movies connected, you ask? Well, it seems that several alternate scenes were shot for I Am Legend, the most important of which was an alternate ending (something that’s a given these days that shows up in the Blu-Ray and DVD, there’s even one I saw recently for Iron Man 2, pre-digital effects). ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT In this ending, Smith cheats death and takes his cure to the Vermont military base, and he lived happily ever after. END SPOILER

Let’s go along with the universe where the alternate ending exists. If Star Trek could do it (albeit with an actual reason), so can Will Smith, international superstar. Neville lives to see another day.

But what if having the cure doesn’t mean that he lived happily ever after? What if the zombies actually grew immune to that cure and then came close to wiping the survivors out altogether, and the only resort that mankind had was to ditch Earth once and for all and start afresh in the stars?

Such a possibility sounds far fetched (and it is), but when you think about it, its not impossible. Maybe the governments of the world had a Master Reboot button a la 2012, where instead of a big boat, they used a big spaceship and flew the hell out of there. Or they did it gradually and finally transported the last humans, like in Wall-E, in a grand exodus, thanks to corporate help.

In this alternate universe, 1000 years later, mankind has decided to screw coming back to Earth because its too dangerous and Earth has become foreign to humanity. Also, Smith’s Dr. Neville has passed on, and generation after generation of the Nevilles continue in this new existence while orbiting Earth. The Neville namesake eventually morphs into the Raige family, and Cypher Raige (Smith in After Earth) is actually a descendant of Neville, which also means that he carries traces of Neville’s guilt from not being able to save his planet. Presumably this emerges more strongly in his son Kitai, who persuades his dad to take him to Earth, where After Earth‘s journey begins.

Talk about a long delayed alternate sequel, 1000 years in the making.

Attributions: After earth logo.png by Sony Pictures, PD-US
Will Smith 2011, 3.jpg by Truu, CC-BY-2.0

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